How Often To Feed Ball Python? [With Chart & Tips]

ball pythons are called ball pythons because they curl up into a ball shape when they feel threatened or when they are resting. This is an instinctual behavior that helps them to defend themselves. The ball python feeds on rodents, so you can feed it frozen rats from your local pet store.

But the question that some snake breeders or owners do not know the answer to is, How often do I feed my snake? We will answer this question and more related questions in the following details:

how often to feed ball python How Often To Feed Ball Python? [With Chart & Tips]

How Often To Feed Ball Python?

Ball pythons are perfect for anyone who is looking for a new pet. They don’t require much maintenance and they are easy to feed. The only thing that you need to do is make sure that they have enough food in their cage every week.

We recommend feeding your snake every week, but if you notice that the snake has lost weight, then you may need to feed it more often.

A ball python can be fed once a week. They should be fed prey that is equal in size to the snake’s girth.

There are some types of snakes that need to be fed every day, or even twice a day. These snakes are usually larger than ball pythons.

As for the young ball pythons, they need to be fed at least once or twice a week.

Ball Python Feeding Chart

ball python feeding chart How Often To Feed Ball Python? [With Chart & Tips]

This chart is intended to give a general understanding of the average feeding schedule of ball pythons — not a strict feeding schedule. Keepers should feed their animals based on the individual snake’s metabolism and needs. Understanding healthy body weight and fluctuations in feeding schedule are vital to the proper keeping of any animal. Do not rely strictly on any chart, as individual needs may vary.

Allow your Ball Python to acclimate to its new home for a couple of weeks. Start your hatchling (about 15″ in length) off with a single pre-killed one week to 10-day old “fuzzy” mouse. A smaller sized hatchling may require a smaller mouse; try a pre-killed 5-day old. Older ball pythons may be fed larger pre-killed mice or pinkie rats.

If you have not had any experience force feeding a snake, you may not want to try it yourself until you have seen someone do it. Force feeding, whether of a mouse or with a formula inserted by catheter and syringe, is very stressful for the snake (and it isn’t much fun for the owner!). If your new ball has gone several months without eating and is beginning to noticeably lose weight, take it to a reptile vet or contact your local herpetology society and ask to speak to someone who is knowledgeable about ball pythons and feeding problems.

Ball Python Feeding Guidelines

how often to feed ball python 1 How Often To Feed Ball Python? [With Chart & Tips]

Ball pythons are primarily rodent eaters – most commonly rats or mice. They can eat either live prey or frozen rodents that have been thawed and warmed up. Beyond the first few meals after hatching, I feed exclusively rats to my ball python collection.

They provide optimal nutrition and are a convenient option for both keepers and animals alike. One appropriately sized rat per feeding is good for both a hatchling and an adult ball python.

Even with the above advice, it is important to keep in mind that there is no one right way to feed a ball python. Find what works for both you and your snakes and stick to it!

How To Feed A Ball Python?

Ball Pythons are a constrictor and their diet consists of small rodents. They will eat mice and rats throughout their lives. They are nocturnal, so a good time to feed is at night. A separate feeding cage is NOT recommended. When you move a Ball Python to a separate cage to feed it may stress them and cause them to not eat. This is a good lesson for everyone: You should never leave a live prey item (other than a pink mouse or pink rat that cannot bite a snake) unattended.

When it comes to feeding Ball Pythons it is easy to provide the snake with a balanced healthy diet, since snakes consume whole prey items. Ball Pythons usually begin eating baby mice and rats, called pinkies.

When is the best time to feed my Ball Python?

When it comes to feeding Ball Pythons try at night. Ball Pythons are nocturnal, meaning they rest during the day and are active primarily at night so have a tendency to feed better at night.

Ball Python Feeder Sizing Chart – The Appropriate Size rodent to Feed to your Ball Python.
Hatchling-99 grams: Mouse Hopper
100-199 grams: Mouse or Rat Pup
200-349 grams: Rat Hopper
350-499 grams: Weaned Rat
500-649 grams: Small Rat
650-1199 grams: Small Rat – Medium Rat
1200-2799 grams: Medium Rat
2800 grams and up: Medium Rat – (Large Rat)

What happens if the food is too big for a Ball Python?

As a rule of thumb don’t feed your ball python anything bigger than the thickest part of its body. If you stick with this rule you won’t ever have an issue. Sometimes if the prey is too large they may regurgitate it and the snake could get stomach acid on it which can burn the snake or even be lethal.

Feeding Ball Pythons on a Schedule

Ball Pythons eat rodents, primarily rats and mice. The size of the food item is dependent upon the girth of the snake. Don’t feed your ball python anything bigger than the thickest part of its body. This is recommended for ALL snakes. If your snake is a hatchling it should be fed every 5-6 days but as it gets older it’s not really needed to feed as much, since its fat stores have built up during the year. 10-14 days is a good feeding schedule for an adult ball python.

If your Ball Python doesn’t eat weekly it is okay to skip a feeding and try to feed him again the next time. Also, if your snake seems to be overweight (the tail should slowly taper to a point, not have an abrupt change in width from the vent to the tip) you should wait longer in between feedings as to prevent obesity issues.

How To Get Hatch-ling Started Feeding?

How to get baby Ball Pythons to feed. Start hatch-lings feeding on either live rat pups or mouse hoppers. Put the young rodent in the snake’s enclosure and leave it for the snake to feed. It’s a good way to start them. If the Baby Ball Python doesn’t feed, take the food item out and try again in a few days.

Wait a few days after hatching from the egg before offering the first meal 7-10 is a good starting point or after the first shed. Remember they absorb the yoke before coming out of the eggs and in doing so this provides them with enough nutrients to survive for the first few weeks.

Here are some steps to follow on getting baby ball pythons started feeding.
Start Week 1 a few days after the first shed. Be sure the hatchlings are housed by themselves in a small 6qt tub with fresh water and a hide box.

Week 1 drop a rat pink in each box and leave it overnight.
Week 2 again drop a rat pink in each box and leave it overnight.
Week 3 drop a mouse pink in each box and leave it overnight.
Week 4 don’t even offer them a meal this week and leave them alone. Add some crumpled up newspaper to their boxes for added security.
Week 5 again drop a rat pink in each box and leave it overnight.
Week 6 place the snake in a deli cup with a rat pink in if after a few hours they don’t eat it, try replacing it with a mouse fuzzy for a few more hours.
Week 7 assists in feeding a mouse pink twice a week until they start feeding on their own.

How Often To Feed A Baby Ball Python?

We try to feed baby ball pythons once a week until they reach about 400grams. We slowly increase the size of the meal as the snake grows so it does not become overweight.

Hint For A Ball Python That Isn’t Feeding

If your Ball Python isn’t taking food, try looking at the temperatures of the enclosure, is his tank too big, are there enough hides? Did you try different colored mice? (If you were feeding white mice try feeding brown.) What time of day where you feeding them? Some Ball Pythons only take during the night, and then some don’t care. Ball Pythons will often refuse food if they are handled excessively or when their habitat changes. They will need time to get comfortable in new surroundings before accepting a meal.

Should I Feed My Ball Python Mice Or Rats?

Rats are slightly more beneficial to snakes because of their nutritional content. They are also more convenient because they come in larger sizes and as the snake grows you can upgrade in size and still feed only one prey item per feeding. However, if your snake is willing to eat multiple mice per feeding then it’s mainly just personal preference.

Power Feeding Is Never A Good Idea

Some people power feed their Ball Pythons so they grow faster; It will cause your snake to become too fat and may have an ill effect. If you overfeed your Ball Python it cuts its lifespan in half. It’s called power feeding and should never be done. If you feed your Ball Python one rat a week it will grow to its maximum size. If your snake does not take to rats then you can feed it two adult mice back to back.

What If Your Ball Python Won’t Eat?

If you are keeping it at the correct temperature, and it is healthy, it should feed regularly. If it refuses a meal several times in a row, or if it regurgitates, or if you notice obvious weight loss or signs of disease (fluid or bubbles in the nostrils, sneezing, open-mouth breathing), it is time to make an appointment with a reptile veterinarian.

Need help finding a reptile veterinarian near you check out ARAV’s Find A Vet . (ARAV) stands for Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians.

The Different Ways To Feed Ball Python?

Now you know how often to feed your Ball Python and what size prey to offer. Let’s talk about the ways in which you present the prey. There are basically three ways to feed:

You can offer frozen-thawed and warmed.
You can offer freshly killed.
You can offer live prey.
Of these three feeding techniques, the first option is by far the best and safest. To find out more about switching to Frozen-Thawed you can read >> How To Feed A Ball Python Frozen Rats.

And you can read a detailed article on feeding ball pythons snakes, from the link >> What to feed ball pythons.

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Mustafa Tshash

I'm Mustafa Tshash a Pet breeder with years of hands-on experience in this field.
One of my primary goals is to educate pet owners about the correct steps and essential tips for caring for their pets.
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